What's next for Dricus Du Plessis?
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What’s next for Dricus Du Plessis?

The reigning UFC middleweight champion has said that a date for his first title defense remains undetermined as he continues to deal with injuries suffered in his split decision victory over Sean Strickland in January.

04-03-24 14:59
What's next for Dricus Du Plessis?
Image Credit: Unsplash

Over the last decade or so, Africa has been thrust into the limelight when it comes to the UFC. The Likes of Francis Ngannou, Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman have all flown their counties’ flags high in the sky as they raised championships above their heads. But one flag that hadn’t yet been raised was that of South Africa.

Well, back at UFC 297 in Toronto on January 20th, that came to an end. Dricus Du Plessis has taken the middleweight division by storm in the two and a half years since his debut, beating heavy hitters in the form of Robert Whittaker, Derek Brunson and Darren Till.

Those victories catapulted him into title contention against newly minted 185-pound king Sean Strickland. The controversial American shockingly defeated the aforementioned Adesanya last September to become champion. In his first defence, he came up against South Africa’s Du Plessis and the Welkom-born star did enough to secure the gold with a razor-thin split-decision victory.

Oddschecker.com compares all the best bonus bets and odds from top bookmakers, with free bets and promotions available in over 20 states that have legislated for sports betting. The bookies featured on the site have made Du Plessis a narrow underdog heading into the contest. But now, attention turns to what’s next. Who should face Du Plessis in his maiden title defence?

Sean Strickland

The obvious number one contender for the gold at present is the man that Du Plessis dethroned as king, Strickland. The 33-year-old put up a hell of a fight throughout the pair’s contest and, while the result was by no means a “robbery,” the Californian can count himself unlucky that he didn’t get his hand raised in victory. Despite the close nature of the fight, Strickland was gracious in defeat and that may stand him in good stead when it comes to his hopes of securing a rematch.

Strickland has beaten all-comers in the middleweight division. Since suffering back-to-back losses to Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier, he reeled off consecutive victories to put him in a position to battle it out with then-champ Adesanya. And while many thought that the Last Style Bender would have too much for the American to handle, it was Strickland’s volume and relentless pressure that secured him a wide unanimous decision victory.

As mentioned, Strickland proved that he could handle the power game that Du Plessis can implement, and seeing the two square off is something most UFC fans are interested in seeing.

Image: Unsplash

Israel Adesanya

The problem for Strickland is that fans would be more interested in seeing an all-African contest between Du Plessis and Adesanya. Before the Nigerian-born Kiwi lost the gold to his American rival, he had a face-off with Du Plessis inside the Octagon, which seemed to sew the seeds that the two would battle it out for the title. Adesanya embarked on a profanity-infused rant that shocked viewers and made headlines the world over. However, the two never got it on.

Now, with Du Plessis as champion and no fight booked for the Last Style Bender, the road appears to be clear and the two look set to be on a collision course. Many had expected the former champion to face off with the aforementioned Pereira for a fourth time, this time at light heavyweight, the division of which the Brazilian is the new champion. However, Dana White recently announced that Poatan will defend his 205-pound title against Jamahal Hill in the main event of UFC 300.

That leaves Adesanya without a fight on the horizon and, considering his exploits at middleweight, it is perhaps he who should get the title shot rather than Strickland. Throughout his stint as champion, he beat all-comers and embarked on the second-longest middleweight championship reign in history. He defeated the likes of Whittaker, Cannonier, Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero, while also securing redemption for two defeats against Pereira with a knockout victory of his own.

That should leave Adesanya set as having earned a shot against Du Plessis, with Strickland facing the winner.